The assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto has instantly unleashed a profound political and social crisis in Pakistan during the full swing for the January 2008 elections. It also had as an immediate effect a fall of stock indices on world markets. Possible medium and long term effects of the Thursday attack are now analyzed in detail in the world political and financial capitals.

The risks which experts quoted by international media associate with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto:

  • It throws off the campaign for the elections scheduled for January 8 in Pakistan, a poll seen as key for the democratic process in the South-Asian nuclear country with a large Muslim majority. Unrest in Pakistan is eroding the market sentiment dramatically as the country is known as holding nuclear weapons, says Daiwa SB Investments manager Koichi Ogawa, quoted by Reuters.
  • The assassination is prompting the US Administration to re-write its plans to stabilize the situation in Pakistan and fight terrorism in the region as over the past several months Benazir Bhutto was seen as key for these plans there, in a possible association with her Liberal-minded rival Pervez Musharraf, Los Angeles Times notes.
  • The issue of national security and fight against terrorism returns to limelight in the US electoral campaign, as AFP reports. Many Republican and Democratic candidates are already using the Thursday attack in their own electoral interest. Such is the case of former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the hero of September 11, who aims at the Republican candidacy in the presidential elections and who has been pushing a national security agenda, an issue that has dropped in prominence for the past several months of campaign.
  • On international markets, affected by upped oil prices and a fall of the US dollar against the euro, yen and Swiss franc, many fear the Pakistani economy would be deeply hit and Pakistan may become a failed state, with possible repercussions on other economies in the region, BBC reports.
  • Still, other capital market investors quoted by the Associated Press believe that despite the current crisis will have a short term effect on Pakistani economy this would not suffer much on the long term as the economy of the country is expected to rise 5.5% next year.
  • India Times is not as optimistic and invokes the experience of past crises in Pakistan, which determined an increased terrorism activity in India. According to experts quoted by the AFP, Indian authorities seem not to know how to react to the risks put by the new crisis in the neighboring country, which may seriously affect the reconciliation process between the two South Asian nations. This process has well overlapped with the boom of investments by major world companies in India, a country which is now surrounded by pools of instability - Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal.
  • The death of Benazir Bhutto has already revived memories of the corruption charges that led to her dismissal as prime minister, some of them related to business personalities in Swiss, Poland and France - including French businessman Serge Dassault, known as close to current French President Nicolas Sarkozy.